Learning To Do It Yourself

I spend a fair bit of time talking to small business owners and people looking to bring their dreams alive online.  As you know, I refer to these folks as Casual Marketers because marketing is something they do on top of everything else or as a side interest.

Most of these people fall into one of two camps: people who outsource pretty much everything that isn’t their core skillset and those who dig in, especially with the online elements and have a try at doing it themselves.

If you know me at all personally, you know that I have a soft spot for the DIY entrepreneurs because I admire their willingness to, as the Aussies say, “have a red hot go.”  I think it’s great that people are happy to roll up their sleeves and learn some new skills to help progress their business.

3 Reasons I Like DIY’ers

There’s a number of reasons I feel this way:

1) Most people just starting out online have a very limited understanding of all the moving pieces that their business is going to have.  Outsourcing everything from the get-go means you’ll never learn it;

2) Doing some or all of the work yourself will save you a bit of money initially.  These things can get a bit expensive when you start hiring people to do them for you when you’re just starting out; and,

3) If you’ve never project managed any kind of third party technology project, especially with relation to website development or design, it’s much harder than you think.  In fact, just about everyone, including myself (and I have a ton of experience managing projects) gets burned occasionally.

For me though, it’s the intersection of all these three points.  If you don’t know how to do something, you’ll have no idea of how long it will take to complete and you won’t be able to associate a financial value on the work.

Avoid Getting Screwed Over

Basically, if you learn how to do it yourself, even badly, then when you want to get some people to help you, you’ll know what’s going on.

Seriously, this is a real problem that I come across all the time.  People who are as keen as mustard to get their yoga studio with vegan cafe web presence happening, hire someone to “build them a site” and things get ugly.  The quote comes back at $10,000 for a simple WordPress site or they end up being told it’s going to take three weeks, but after eight weeks the person doing the work stops answering your calls…

I’ve seen all of these things happen and worse.  I was once involved in an outsourcing project in 1998 where my employer signed a contract with an Iranian development company to build a trust accounting system for us using a strange database platform from France.  The project was a year late, $750,000 over budget and the user interface was pink – seriously, we had a pink trust accounting system with an unworkable user interface on a database that was written in French.  Je ne rigole pas (“I’m not kidding” for those of you unfamiliar with the language of love).

We can all laugh, but the number of “small website” jobs that I’ve seen come back looking like a blind chimp with crayons created it is frightening.  Or sites that just absolutely don’t work at all because the guy from hired off Upwork or Fiverr who built it decided they could create their own WordPress themes and plugins – that’s a true story again by the way.

Not Every Task Is Suited To DIY

Now, I’m not saying that you should do everything yourself all the time.  There are some things that may just be better done by professionals and I think that’s a great idea.  For example, there may be some delicate integration work that needs to happen if you want to take payments on your site.  Ok, that might be best to hire someone for.

We could probably come up with a dozen examples, but the truth is, if you’re going to put up a simple WordPress site, then you can probably do that across a weekend or two comfortably.

Will you need advice and guidance on somethings?  Of course.  Picking a good webhost and choosing a theme are areas that friends or smart people in your network should be able to help you with.  You can even reply to one of these emails and ask me your question, if it’s easy and I know the answer, I’ll happily give you some ideas.

Limit Your Risks

Here’s the important thing, you can limit your risk long term by investing some time upfront to learn a few of these basic skills.  If you’ve gone out, installed WordPress and slapped on a theme, you’ll know that someone offering to do that for $500 is yanking your chain.  If you put together a basic layout in Divi and were able to get a reasonable design, when it comes time to get something a bit more appealing, you’ll know that the person asking you to give them $5000 upfront to do a design is crazy.

Will it take you longer?  Yep, absolutely.  It will probably suck and you’ll hate doing it, but trust me, you’ll thank me for the experience later.

There is a whole mess of people out there who will tell you, “Just pay someone to do it, you focus on what you’re good at” and those people are often service providers who do that kind of work or frankly, people who have achieved very little themselves.  Honestly, the number of folks that I see who don’t even have their own website telling other people to “just outsource it” is laughable.

I don’t have a dog in this fight, I just want you to make good choices.

You might be sitting there thinking, “Ok Sean, you’re technical and you know this stuff, so it’s easy for you.”  And you’d be right, it is easy for me, but I didn’t wake up one morning knowing what I know or I didn’t plug into the Matrix and download “WordPress Setup” into my brain.  I took a bit of time and learned it.

You’re reading my emails and you may already be a Casual Marketer Monthly Newsletter subscriber, so that means you’re obviously a smart person, you can learn these skills.  I’m not saying become an expert, just learn enough to not be cuckcolded to someone else and to have enough knowledge to keep people who you do hire to help you, honest.

Now, as I said, if you’re reading this email, you’re pretty smart, but if you want to be really smart and be seen to have incredibly good taste, you should sign up for my Casual Marketer Monthly Newsletter.  To join, click the button below and you’ll be counted among the smartest, most charismatic and insightful people in your peer group.

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